The Mist Sprinkler System will do its best to keep your yard thriving, even in a drought. By using readings from solar-powered moisture sensors you place throughout your yard combined with information from local weather forecasts, the Mist Sprinkler Controller will supposedly give your plants just the right amount of water they need.
The system should save you money on your water bill under all conditions, and in a drought, it can automatically provide the minimum moisture necessary to keep your garden green until conditions improve.
Peering into the Mist
The main piece of the Mist system is the $150 Mist Controller. It replaces your existing controller for an in-ground sprinkler system and can support up to 16 zones. It connects to Wi-Fi and determines when to water autonomously, based on weather reports it gathers from the cloud and moisture readings from the other piece of the system.
That other piece is the Mist Sensor. A $50 add-on to the Controller, you'll place the plastic-encased, weatherproof sensor into the soil of your yard or garden. From there, it collects information on moisture, ambient light and temperature, then sends that data to the Controller.
The Mist Sensor runs on rechargeable solar-powered batteries that are touted to last up to 10 years. It also detects when it's raining or freezing and will stop your sprinklers from running in either case.
Mist Labs, the California-based startup behind the Mist system, claims it can reduce your water bills by up to 50 percent. Mist will only run the sprinklers in short bursts, to let the water sink in and so that the sensors can update their readings before continuing, if necessary. In drought mode, it'll run in shorter bursts and only target zones with vulnerable plants.
It's unclear how Mist will know which plants are vulnerable. You'll be able to control the sprinklers yourself, if you choose, and customize days and times for watering from Mist's iOS and Android app. Perhaps that app will have a plant database you can use to help keep the system informed about the needs of your yard.
Smart garden competition
Both of Mist's main devices, the smart sprinkler controller and the smart garden sensor, will have plenty of competition when they hit the market, though Mist Labs will be the first company to offer both in a single system.
Other smart sprinkler controllers include the, , and . All replace your in-ground sprinkler controller and use weather reports to help you plan your watering schedule more efficiently. Both Rachio and GreenIQ have channels on -- an online smart-home automation platform -- allowing you to customize rules to set up watering schedules based on input from other devices. For instance, you can use the , a smart-garden sensor also compatible with IFTTT, to keep Rachio and GreenIQ informed.
The Flower Power, though, is limited to Bluetooth. GreenIQ also works with theto the same effect. Another competitor, the , throws nutrition and humidity readings into the equation, along with the three parameters measured by Mist, and will talk to an upcoming Edyn Water Valve to control your hose-fed sprinklers.
You can pre-order Mist now via its Indiegogo campaign. You can find a few bundles and early-bird offers with discounts, but even the normal price seems reasonable if Mist works as promised. $150 for 16 zones stacks up well against Rachio ($300 for the 16 zone version), Blossom ($180 for 12 zones) and GreenIQ (6 zones for $250). Even the $50 sensor stacks up well against the $60 Parrot Flower Power, the $100 Edyn and the $130 Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor.
You'll still spend a lot if you want a sensor to monitor each zone, and both pieces will have to deliver responsive functionality to live up the promise of the system and actually be able to keep your lawn alive in a drought. As with any crowdfunded product, I'm wary, but the supposed functionality and the reasonable price at least make this a system worth watching. If all goes according to plan, and you do decide to pre-order, expect delivery in February of 2016.